A double standard for video games?

— 3:16 AM on October 18, 2002

Acclaim's new BMX XXX game is getting a lot of press because of its sexual content and subsequent Mature (17+) ESRB rating. Now, it appears that some retailers are refusing to carry the game at all because of its mature rating. Acclaim has responded, and their press release reveals some interesting statistics, namely that over 60% of next-gen hardware owners are men over the age of 18. The press release also points out what is starting to look like a double standard:

"While we acknowledge that we are setting new benchmarks with BMX XXX(TM), we are disappointed that there are groups who fail to see how this humorous product is truly on par with such widely accepted mainstream entertainment experiences, including movies like American Pie, and TV shows like The Sopranos and Sex and the City," added Fischbach. "As a leading publisher, we fully believe that consumers should have a right to choose their entertainment, and with that right comes the importance of responsible consumerism."
I have to admit that the game's trailer makes it clear that the title won't be in good taste, but I enjoyed a few guilty laughs nonetheless. Clearly, the game shouldn't be played by kids, but how retailers can single it out, while at the same time carrying other mature content in the form of R-rated movies, is beyond me. Retailers aren't supposed to be selling Mature-rated games to kids in the first place.

Do video games deserve to be held to a higher standard just because gaming has traditionally been associated with children? Are the retailers refusing to carry BMX XXX incapable of enforcing policies that prohibit selling Mature-rated games to those under the age of 17?

You know, the more retailers and opponents complain about the game's mature content, the more those kids are going to want to play it anyway. Thanks to Shacknews for the tip.

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